Posts Tagged ‘World Wide Web’

This is an argument against trademark law – Part 2

October 27, 2013
Tim Berners-Lee speaking at the launch of the ...

Tim Berners-Lee speaking at the launch of the World Wide Web Foundation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I recently posted this:

Somebody asked me:

What is the difference between my owning land and owning unique knowledge?

I’ll try to explain the main differences. Starting with the one that I think is most significant.

For Smith to acquire any land that belongs to Jones, Smith has to harm Jones in some way to de-facto “possess’ it, and Jones loses his own property to theft.

But if Jones “owns” a piece of “unique knowledge”, Jones loses absolutely nothing of what he already has if Smith acquires the same piece of “unique knowledge”.

If we apply the principles that support free trade among nations –they do– consider that the free trade means for sugar that we get net positive effect on the average. End the tarriff on them, domestic producers lose but everybody else gains a LOT more.

Ending the “intellectual property” monopolies might mean a loss for the former patent and copyright and trademark holders, but it means great benefit for the rest of us. Not only in that the monopoly royalties hit us all and drain resources from other productive areas, but it means an end to a completely artificial industry in legal services that support such monopolies as a specialization, supplemented in turn by all the bogus “defensive” patent filings. Defensive patents are taken out on ideas that are so obvious anybody and even everybody knows them, but if somebody is awarded by these clueless patent officials then suddenly they have to pay royalties for the obvious.

An example of this waste is a patent Microsoft was actually awarded for an algorithm that recognizes what country corresponds to a high-level domain suffix in the DNS string!!

Information doesn’t want to be free, it just exists, but punishing people for knowing something or telling it gives too much power to government cronies that have a “For rent” shingle hung in front of their office.

Besides, consider Courtney Love‘s rant that the big corporate monsters of Hollywood control the market and pay pittance to the real true originators of ideas, the original writers, the originators of the “intellectual” product.

Consider also that we have recent outstanding examples that disprove the premise in the US Constitution and in the laws of most countries. The idea was stated as to provide incentives for innovation in science and the arts.

Consider also that a lot of new good ideas come from government-subsidized research. Hey, even IBM got its start with the government employee Hollerith who was told to design a system to count the census faster in the late 1800s. He did, and then went private to produce the punched card machines. I don’t know who got the patent for it, but if he did, is it “fair”? We paid for that research. The government couldn’t do it without robbing us first.

(Before the people who love to be told what to do and say and spend on what react, let us point out that the gigantic advances in calculating and computing have been from the private sector).

But now we have the World Wide Web, using a protocol and algorithms that Tim Berners-Lee gave to the world. Open source is taking over! In the words of one Red Hat developer I recently met, “We won!” (meaning Open Source). Android has more devices running it than Apple has sold, Linux took over the Internet server space lightning fast, open source browsers are crowding out the Microsoft browser on Microsoft machines running Windows.

Open source inspired open document, the commons license, wikipedia (in part), wikis in general. An open source office suite. There is open source bios!

Google Facebook. Yahoo. The most important Internet companies run open source. Brokerage companies on Wall Street that gain and lose millions sometimes in seconds, prefer Linux applications.

And the most creative research in computing is in open source code.

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Patent law does more harm than good now

October 19, 2013
Tim Berners-Lee at a Podcast Interview

Tim Berners-Lee at a Podcast Interview (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now comes Paul Jacobs, major beneficiary (with reason) of “the patent system” as chairman and CEO, Qualcomm:

He makes the usual case for protecting the patent system, and says a bill proposed in Congress “aimed at curbing patent infringement lawsuits” would “put at risk” those “patent protections”.

He says his firm “works with companies on both sides of some headline-making patent lawsuits”. And as usual, instead of talking about the cost to his own company, he invokes the image of the little guy. What he doesn’t say is that little guys are the ones most hurt by patent litigation in general:

If the laws are changed to weaken patent protections, many small inventors, like university researchers and start-up innovators burning the midnight oil in their garage, could find themselves unable to protect the fruits of their hard work and investments. In addition, the value of standard essential patents should not be diminished by those who haven’t had a hand in contributing to the standard. They are leveraging the R&D investment of others to build standards compliant products which is healthy for the industry. However, arbitrarily devaluing patents to favor their own commercial interests unfairly tips the scale against the inventor. Who will make the future investments if companies like Qualcomm can’t get a fair return and stop investing and inventing?

What’s missing from the debate is the point-of-view of the inventor.

Really? It would be very interesting to see how much credit is really given to the actual inventors in labs and technology firms –in the form of the revenue differential that comes due to this monopoly grant system.

Did he complain about the bill that kept inventors out in the cold if a really big firm like Paul Jacobs’ can beat him to the Patent Office?

It’s called the “Leahy-Smit American Invents Act”, that changed the patent system from a “first to invent” to a “first to file” system. Under this law, it matters not that YOU invented it, it matters not that somebody stole the idea from YOU, if Qualcomm files first, YOU are screwed. YOU can PROVE that you invented it and they stole it, but they still get the monopoly rights.

Did he complain about that law? Maybe the bill he’s complaining about repeals it?

Here’s what that one did:

(1) It doesn’t matter if you invented it first, if some company that specializes in technology, especially patents, can file the claim first, the guy who got there first is nixed, and the guy who got there first cannot even profit from his own invention.

(2) Some companies might take some technique already in use, some kind of constructed device, in a niche market, for example, and if that company files a patent on it, everybody else has to pay tribute. Including the people who used it first.

(3) The guy who invented the Web, Tim Berners-Lee, communication protocol is not patented. No company would destroy its own PR by doing this, but legally anybody –that means anybody could file the patent and get it. I’m sure they wouldn’t grant it, because it would invite a loud roar from across the land, the techs would give them an earful, and most of all, almost every tech company would have to pay up. Ain’t gonna happen.

Read more on the subject from Stephen Kinsella, a guy on the right side of this issue.